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Jane Ahlin, Published November 17 2012

Ahlin: Death of Thanksgiving as we know it? Maybe …

On my way to the store to buy Thanksgiving groceries, I found myself smiling. I love Thanksgiving. It’s such a simple, uncomplicated holiday, a day devoted to the most delicious meal of the year and our fortunate state of being able to enjoy it with family and friends. No big fuss and bother with decorations or expectations, Thanksgiving is traditional and predictable.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was making a mental note to send off checks to my favorite charities – charities among several serving as last resort for hundreds of people in our community facing hunger and homelessness – when I realized there was a big sign between me and the door of the store. Probably measuring 4 feet by 6 feet, the sign was hand-lettered in three lines: FOUR STAR ZIPPERS! FISCAL CLIFF! BLACK THURSDAY NIGHT!

Jolted out of my pleasant contemplation, I was not surprised to see Mary Contrary next to the sign holding a clipboard.

“Hey, Sunshine,” she greeted me, “want to sign one of my petitions? I’ve got three.”

“I’m busy with Thanksgiving-planning, Mary. Maybe some other time.”

“Whoa, Sunshine. Are you telling me you can’t take a minute to prevent military catastrophe or economic Armageddon? Are you telling me you don’t care about the death of Thanksgiving as we know it?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about, Mary. All I know is that I have lots of shopping to do, and I’m not getting it done standing outside the store.”

“Well, la-dee-dah for you, Sunshine.” Her eyes narrowed, “I thought you were the one all tough on civic responsibilities and serious citizenry.”

“I am,” I said, knowing once again I was stuck. “OK, Mary, you can tell me about your petitions, but keep it short and simple.” I tried to look threatening. “And I do mean short.”

“OK, OK.” Mary smiled. “My first petition takes on the terrible zipper problem four-star generals seem to be having. It’s like the top brass started buying their pants from the same manufacturer big-shot politicians use. We’re all familiar with their faulty zippers.”

“I know where you’re headed, Mary. It’s quite a scandal that Gen. David Petraeus and maybe Gen. John Allen are all tangled up in such a lurid mess. The stupidity of the junior-high-type emailing, alone, defies description. I mean, a Gmail account? Really?”

Mary nodded, “Dumb enough to decimate a division.” She brightened. “So here’s what I propose. For every star a male general gets, a zipper is added. Not to his pants, you understand, although that might help. Instead, the zipper goes on his chest with his medals. See, it’s OK if the troops think a general is invincible; however, when a general, himself, starts believing that he’s Supreme Blah, Blah, Blah, the military is in big trouble.”

I looked at my watch. “What else is on your mind, Mary?”

“Always in a hurry going nowhere, aren’t you Sunshine?” She paused. “It’s the fiscal cliff hysteria – as if the Republicans can’t face they came up short on Election Day and President Barack Obama can’t face he didn’t.”

“Public sentiment ought to take care of that, Mary. People expect tax increases on the rich and real reform to the tax code, too. Frankly, the real cliff is the political cliff politicians will go over if they’re obstructionist.”

“Well said, Sunshine, very good.” She smiled a broad smile. “On to number three, the underhanded destruction of Thanksgiving by America’s retailers. Call me Norman Rockwell, but Black Friday should not be replaced by Black Thursday Night.”

“Absolutely. Shame on Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Kmart, Sears, and Target. There’s no excuse for ruining our one solid, simple, family-friendly national holiday with shopping.” I took a deep breath. “This is scary, Mary. We’ve agreed. I don’t even feel bad.”

“Sorry to ruin the moment, Sunshine, but that could be because you haven’t been looking much in the rear-view mirror, if you get my drift.”

“Goodbye, Mary.”

Ahlin writes a Sunday column for The Forum.